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WILLIAM KATT, WAYNE CRAWFORD & REB BROWN IN 'WHITE GHOST'

Brown-haired Reb Brown artwork for WHITE GHOST Year: 1988 Rating: ***

Actor/Producer Wayne Crawford plays a grouchy commando common enough to have a line that finishes with "Cap in your ass!" And with WHITE GHOST there's a lesson on how to use William Katt's BIG WEDNESDAY co-star, Reb Brown (who had resembled a skinny and large version of each other), the right and wrong way — starting with what not to do...

The mission to "rescue" and/or "recover" Katt's titular rogue from the Vietnam jungle, where he's existed, obscured behind a phantom legacy since the unpopular war's closure almost twenty years earlier, is headed by Reb Brown, portraying a very serious, seemingly passive major, addressing a round table of grimacing politicians wanting nothing to do with the near-historic error of Vietnam...

Wayne Crawford in WHITE GHOST

From the conference room to his office, Brown's Maj. Cross delivers lines in a listless CAPTAIN AMERICA delivery. But have patience: there is a reason to smile when, upon hearing the news that Wayne Crawford's group of bully commandoes had screwed up the mission, Brown asks for a plane — by the film's gun-blasting finale, he makes like an awesome STRIKE COMMANDO freed from a CAGE with the kind of screaming UNCOMMON VALOR only he would wield. And in-between the talky intro and the action-packed finale, there's a lot going on in WHITE GHOST, and, at the same time, not much at all.

Those mercenaries... led by Crawford, whose swarthy countenance makes a more believable villain than he was an affable hero in JAKE SPEED... basically trudge around what seems like a giant circle of tree-brush, seeming to get absolutely nowhere. The men include a young moral compass played by ENDLESS LOVE actor Martin Hewitt, who eventually winds up befriending the title character after realizing who the good and bad guys are...

William Katt and Rosalind Chao in WHITE GHOST

Katt's title yet extremely buried and subtle Steve Shepard teaches the kid a thing or two about preparing guns and bombs for an upcoming attack while providing his own backstory, which includes the usual "we burned villages with innocent women and children," a tragic real life element that's extremely overused in Vietnam flicks...

Before this is an unintentionally hilarious moment showing the mercenaries first scene "in-country" – without having witnessed their arrival, there they are, trudging along, back in 'Nam as if in a nature center during summer vacation, and one guy says: "It smells the same," as another shouts back, "Maybe you're the one who smells!" This is paraphrased, but much of their dialogue's practically as awkward and banal...

Red Brown in WHITE GHOST

As is the casting of the curly blond haired GREATEST AMERICAN HERO as the WHITE GHOST instead of a brawny, more befitting Chuck Norris type or hell, even Reb Brown would have fit much better in the brazen lead — which would have made it way more accessible to cult movie fans with a bloodlust for steely heroes wielding tons of ultra-violence — which does eventually occur, especially in the Extended-Version Blu Ray...

Although, being a genuinely capable actor, the CARRIE prom king tries his very best, and is no stranger to playing Vietnam vets — Katt leaves and returns from the war in BIG WEDNESDAY (and HOUSE) — but as this legendary "human wraith," a passive-till-pushed survivalist (with girlfriend Rosalind Chao) who one of the mercenaries describes as "Not human," he's out of his element, particularly with the curly, vanilla-colored hair (inches short of a mullet) that bounces to each step as if shampooed daily...

Red Brown in WHITE GHOST

But once all the characters reach the high-octane pinnacle, WHITE GHOST, with little time left, goes wonderfully overboard, and Katt won't go down without a teeth-grinding fight, especially since Wayne Crawford's Captain Walker strives to take him back dead, not alive (still bitter about being "ratted-out" for burning that village)... 

And, though dime-a-dozen in the "Missing in Action" style sub-genre, this obscure curio moves decently enough so what fails as a war-related vehicle winds up a semi-decent action flick.

William Katt in WHITE GHOST

Red Brown in WHITE GHOST
Wayne Crawford and Karl Johnson in WHITE GHOST
Red Brown in WHITE GHOST
Rosalind Chao in WHITE GHOST
Wayne Crawford in WHITE GHOST
Wayne Crawford and Karl Johnson in WHITE GHOST
Reb Brown in WHITE GHOST
Red Brown says farewell to the Vietnam-departing William Katt in BIG WEDNESDAY
Brown-haired Reb Brown rendering for WHITE GHOST poster


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